From left to right: Roishetta Sibley Ozane, Dr. Joy Banner, Destiny Barnes, Shamyra Lavigne

All Eyes On The Gulf: The Data Behind Their Stories

Emissions data, along with personal stories shows a complete picture — humanistic and scientific — of the realities River Parish communities are facing.
Posted on May 15, 2024 
By Alexis Young

People over Plastic’s All Eyes on the Gulf series featured the irreverent and impactful voices of Roishetta Sibley Ozane, Dr. Joy Banner, Shamyra Lavigne, Destiny Barnes, and others.

These Louisiana residents bravely record, name, and amplify their experiences in an act of resistance against parties responsible for the commodification and degradation of their homes — the oil and gas industry.

PoP has shared and told stories about the impacts of petrochemicals, the building blocks of plastic, and how they disrupt Indigenous and Black ways of life and community — but data quantifies reality with actionable metrics. Emissions data forces us to reckon with the impacts of industrial pollution.

Combining this data with personal stories, we hope to show a complete picture — humanistic and scientific — of the realities River Parish communities are facing.

In particular, we looked at three chemicals: benzene, formaldehyde and nitrogen oxide. 

Benzene, formaldehyde and nitrogen oxide flares are emitted from petroleum refineries in thick plumes near homes, schools and businesses in Louisiana’s River Parishes. The flare or flames that regularly ignite the skies, burn flammable chemicals into the atmosphere to keep the refineries from imploding.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends an airborne exposure limit — for all three chemicals — between .75-3 parts per million during a refinery employee’s 8-hour shift or .000075%-.0003%. Approximate exposure percentages for residents of these four parishes far exceed OSHA’s recommendations.

According to OSHA, the range of exposure percentages over each graph quantity is long term exposure. Symptoms of long-term or chronic exposure include: various blood diseases ranging from anemia to leukemia from benzene exposure; respiratory or dermal conditions and cancers, death from throat swelling and chemical burns in the lungs from chronic formaldehyde exposure; and chronic exposure to nitrogen oxide can result in pulmonary edema, pneumonitis, bronchitis, bronchiolitis, emphysema, and possibly methemoglobinemia.

The data we’ve pulled geographically corresponds with our reporting. We spoke to Miss Roishetta in Calcasieu, Dr. Banner in Jefferson, Shamyra Lavigne in St. James and Destiny Barnes in Orleans.

Data gathered from The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality has been organized to illustrate chemical emissions in an understandable and digestible fashion. We invite you to re-experience these Women’s stories through new lenses!

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© People over Plastic 2024
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